On the way to Heaven, many souls were there
Moving to the Pearly Gate, up the Golden Stair
Pete, standing at the top, gave a darkling look
"Hey! What's that you're carrying?" The soul replied, "A book."
"What book? Is it the Bible? We've got some copies here.
More than enough for all of you, so have no fear."

"No, it's not the Bible, just a book I choose
To read on quiet mornings, or when I get the blues."
"There's none of that in this place. Throw the thing away.
No room for trash in Heaven, not after Judgement Day."

"Shan't" the soul said stubbornly, and sat down on the Stair.
Peter snarled, quite audibly, and gave a steely glare.
Went to find his Lord, who was out walking in the garden.
Peter coughed, and knelt, and said, "O Lord, I beg your pardon."
"Granted." God said graciously, "Now, get up off the ground,
It really is a lovely day--just stop and look around."

Peter told his story, and God began to grin.
"What a good idea." He said, "Let is be brought in."
"But," said Peter, "If we do, they'll all want books as well."
"Good," said God, "Don't want it said that we've less art than Hell."

So when you get to Heaven, if hymns should chance to pall,
You can stop and read a book--because they've got them all.
Not just the classics, or those of noted worth,
But all books ever written, from everywhere on Earth.
And there's a special section, set a bit apart,
For all the books whose only life was in the writer's heart.

With acknowledgements to Robert Browning and Rudyard Kipling

© Heather Wood 1993

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